Childbirth exposes first time mothers to a completely new world, full of excitement and happiness along with a time intensive course on child rearing. While mothers love their new born and intend to care for them to the best of their efforts, lack of proper guidance and knowledge can make the mothers worry too much or care too less; the former can be very exhausting and stressful for the mother and the latter might seriously affect the child. Following are a few health conditions regarding new born babies and expert advice on what symptoms are normal and abnormal.
The eyes and skin of new born babies tend to be mild yellow due to high bilirubin levels that the ‘still- developing’ liver is not able to process.
Normal: This condition usually disappears within 3 weeks as the organ develops.
Abnormal : However, you should immediately consult a doctor if the eyes and skin appear to be dark yellow along with ‘Group abnormalities’ like fever, cough and vomiting. Dark yellow with the blood group of the mother and baby being different is also an important symptom to reach out to the doctor.
Normal: Babies can suffer from blocked nose due to which they will not take proper feed, sputter or gag during feed and have a disturbed sleep. A couple of paediatric saline nasal drops can clear it for them.
Abnormal: if the baby continues to suffer even after the saline drops, pay attention to the following symptoms
Normal: Excess feed; improper feeding position and burping method can result in a few spoonfuls of vomit. This can be brought under control by paying attention to the right feeding position and proper burping.
Abnormal: If the vomit is yellow/ green, white but more than a few spoonfuls, more frequent and if the baby appears to be exhausted, it is a pressing symptom to visit the doctor.
Normal: New-borns excrete from 8-10 times a day (in case of formula fed) to once a week (in case of exclusively breastfed). The color of the stool varies from black/bottle green immediately after birth, deep yellow or tan yellow depending on breastfeed or formula and rich green before and during teething. The consistency of the stool is usually loose and runny until they start with solids.
They urinate about 5 to 6 times a day.
Abnormal: If the stools and urine passed is lesser than the specified frequency or if there is blood/ mucous in it along with high fever indicates a doctor’s visit immediately.
Lethargy & sleepiness
Normal: Babies begin to respond to sights and sound from as early as 2 weeks to 8 weeks although their field of vision is a lot smaller and they identify voices of only those people who they listen to on a daily basis. By the 3rd month the baby should be active, playful and alert.
Abnormal: If the baby is not able to focus on an object properly, or does not respond to the voices of its family members; is not active and sleeps too much, it might indicate an underlying condition that requires the doctor’s attention.
Normal: Babies usually cry when they are hungry, if a soiled nappy/diaper is bothering them or if they are sleepy. Check the baby’s body for any insect (ant/mosquito) bites.
Abnormal: Attentive monitoring of their bowel movements can help us identify whether they are suffering from gas/ constipation. Colic, ear infection etc. are other reasons for babies to cry excessively and it is best to consult the doctor and find out instead of making assumptions.
A mother’s intuition is usually right; there is no harm in visiting the doctor when you sense that something is wrong.
Tips and information from people with expertise in the field can considerably pacify an anxious new mother and assure her of the great job she is doing at caring for her child.
Our best wishes to all the new mothers and their babies.